It doesn’t take much to help a stranger

Garth Forsberg has been donating blood since he was 16 years old. For him, giving up just 60 minutes of his time to put his feet up and donate blood is an easy way to help out a stranger. For 34 years Garth has continued to live by this philosophy, making regular visits to the Christchurch Donor Centre.

During one particular visit about a decade ago, Garth saw a poster encouraging people to start donating plasma. No stranger to whole blood donation and needles, Garth didn’t take much convincing and signed up to donate plasma at his very next visit.

“It wasn’t a tough decision, I had been donating whole blood for about 24 years so when I saw the poster saying they needed people to donate plasma, I asked the nurses what the process involved, and I was very quickly convinced”, says Garth.

Plasma is the liquid gold portion of blood, which can be used to create up to 12 different lifesaving blood products.  It can be used to help boost immunity, control autoimmune disorders and provides special blood clotting concentrates for people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders.   Plasma is also used to treat people who have lost a lot of blood from accidents and other trauma, and people who have severe bleeding during surgery.

“The nurses were extremely helpful, they talked me through the whole process and booked me straight in for my first plasma donation.”

Since then Garth has been donating plasma on and off for just over 10 years, Garth has made 124 donations and counting with number 125 all booked in. His next task is to encourage his son to accompany him to the donor centre.

“I try and donate plasma around once a month. The whole process only takes me 90 minutes, and it’s a good opportunity to dabble in the weekly crosswords. However, doing them left handed proves slightly difficult.”

Garth has since recruited seven of his colleagues from AuCom Electronics to join him as part of a Team Red group. Team Red is New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS)’s group donation programme. Every three months, six of his team mates head along to the Christchurch Donor Centre to donate whole blood while Garth and another colleague visit more regularly to donate plasma.

When asked what Garth would say to other potential plasma donors his answer was clear.

“After the horrible events in Christchurch, I was watching a TV interview with the Christchurch Mayor, the news reporter asked what the rest of the country can do to help? she responded, ‘go out and help a stranger’ and that really resonated with me.”

“If I can help save at least one’s person’s life by donating whole blood or plasma, then I think that’s pretty good way to help out a stranger and I encourage others to do the same.”

In fact, Garth has helped to save around 369 strangers in the last ten years as each donation can save up to three lives. He’s a real lifesaver.

To find out more about how you can become a blood donor, click here or call 0800 GIVE BLOOD

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